Johannesburg - After helping his side to the brink of a world record Test victory, Faf du Plessis says he is impressed with the guts shown by his team-mates.
South Africa ended 450 for seven, eight runs short of the 458 target set by India in the first Test match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“I'm very satisfied that we pulled it through,” said Du Plessis after the match.
“A lot of people had written us off at the start of the day. The character and pride of this team pulled us through again.”
Du Plessis (134) and AB de Villiers (103) shared in the highest ever fifth wicket partnership in the fourth innings of a Test match, amassing 205 runs while at the crease.
De Villiers had joined Du Plessis in the middle just before lunch as they set about saving the match.
Du Plessis said the match conditions were more difficult than his Test debut in Adelaide, in November last year, against Australia where he famously batted out the match to salvage a draw.
“Before Adelaide I didn't believe I could bat for four sessions.
“The innings in Adelaide was special, but this was much more challenging. The wicket was much tougher. In Adelaide there was not much seam movement.
“I also understood this wicket was harder than Adelaide and I knew this was going to be a real challenge.”
The partnership brought South Africa closer to an unlikely victory, before De Villiers was out with the side still needing 56 to win from just under 13 overs.
“When AB and I were batting, and we really started getting some momentum, only after tea did I really think we could win.
“When we needed something like 130. When we started getting four runs an over quite regularly, our plan became to bat until the last 10 overs of the game.
“From there we were going to try and get anything. AB went out at a crucial stage.”
Du Plessis carried on after the departure of his partner, but was run out with South Africa needing 16 runs from 3.1 overs.
“Obviously with the position we got to, we would have liked to win the game and be part of the best Test match ever.
“We did the same thing in Australia where they threw everything at us and we survived. The next Test match we changed the momentum around.”
Once Du Plessis made it to three figures, it was difficult to regain focus he said.
“I was very good until I got to my century.
“Once you get there, you're flooded with emotion and I knew there was still a lot of work to be done.
“I thought we played really well to get to a position to save the match.”